basic constructions:
strong axioms
further
Given a higher-order intuitionistic type theory $\mathfrak{L}$, it is possible to construct a topos $T(\mathfrak{L})$ out of the syntax of $\mathfrak{L}$. The free topos $T(\mathfrak{L}_0)$ is the result of this construction when $\mathfrak{L}_0$ is ‘pure’ type theory i.e. the only types are 1 (unit type), $N$ (natural numbers type), and $\Omega$ (type of propositions) lacking relations beyond the bare necessities.
As $\mathfrak{L}_0$ is an initial object in the appropriate category of type theories, the free topos $T(\mathfrak{L}_0)$ is itself initial in the corresponding category of toposes (with a natural numbers object) and suitable logical morphisms and is, therefore, also known as the initial topos^{1}.
The internal language of the free topos is precisely pure (intuitionistic) higher order type theory. In 1978, Jim Lambek and Phil Scott exploited this connection in order to prove properties of intuitionistic type theory by proof-theoretic means. It was observed by Peter Freyd then that the concept of a Freyd cover permits to give conceptual proofs of their findings. The following lemma and proposition is a replication of his ideas.
For any category $C$ with a terminal object $\mathbf{1}$, the terminal object of the Freyd cover $\widehat{C}$ is small-projective, i.e., the representable $\Gamma = \widehat{C}(1, -) \colon \widehat{C} \to Set$ preserves any colimits that exist.
To check that $\Gamma^{op} \colon \widehat{C}^{op} \to Set^{op}$ preserves limits, it suffices to check that the composite
preserves limits, because the contravariant power set functor $P = 2^-$ is monadic. But it is easily checked that this composite is the contravariant representable given by $(2, \mathbf{1}, 2 \to \Gamma(\mathbf{1}))$.
The terminal object in the free topos $\mathcal{T}$ is connected and projective in the sense that $\Gamma = \hom(1, -) \colon \mathcal{T} \to Set$ preserves finite colimits.
We divide the argument into three segments:
The hom-functor preserves finite limits, so by general properties of Artin gluing, the Freyd cover $\widehat{\mathcal{T}}$ is also a topos. Observe that $\mathcal{T}$ is equivalent to the slice $\widehat{\mathcal{T}}/M$ where $M$ is the object $(\emptyset, \mathbf{1}, \emptyset \to \Gamma(\mathbf{1}))$. Since pulling back to a slice is a logical functor, we have a logical functor
Since $\mathcal{T}$ is initial, $\pi$ is a retraction for the unique logical functor $i \colon \mathcal{T} \to \widehat{\mathcal{T}}$.
We have maps $\mathcal{T}(1, -) \to \widehat{\mathcal{T}}(i 1, i-) \cong \widehat{\mathcal{T}}(1, i-)$ (the isomorphism comes from $i 1 \cong 1$, which is clear since $i$ is logical), and $\widehat{\mathcal{T}}(1, i-) \to \mathcal{T}(\pi 1, \pi i-) \cong \mathcal{T}(1, -)$ since $\pi$ is logical and retracts $i$. Their composite must be the identity on $\mathcal{T}(1, -)$, because there is only one such endomorphism, using the Yoneda lemma and terminality of $1$.
Finally, since $\mathcal{T}(1, -)$ is a retract of a functor $\widehat{\mathcal{T}}(1, i-)$ that preserves finite colimits (by the lemma, and the fact that the logical functor $i$ preserves finite colimits), it must also preserve finite colimits.
This is important because it implies that the internal logic of the free topos satisfies the following properties:
The disjunction property: if “P or Q” is provable in the empty context, then either P is so provable, or Q is so provable. (Note that this clearly fails in the presence of excluded middle.)
The existence property: if “there exists an $x\in A$ such that $P(x)$” is provable in the empty context, then there exists a global element $x\colon 1\to A$ such that $P(x)$ is provable in the empty context. (Again, this is clearly a constructivity property.)
The negation property: False is not provable in the empty context.
All numerals in the free topos are “standard”, i.e., the global sections functor $\Gamma = \hom(1, -): \mathcal{T} \to Set$ preserves the natural numbers object $N$ (because $N$ can be characterized in terms of finite colimits and $1$, by a theorem of Freyd).
In the foundations of mathematics, Jim Lambek proposed to use the free topos as ambient world to do mathematics in; see (Lambek 2004). Being syntactically constructed, but universally determined, with higher-order intuitionistic type theory as internal language he saw it as a reconciliation of the three classical schools of philosophy of mathematics, namely formalism, platonism, and intuitionism. His latest views on this variant of categorical foundations can be found in (Lambek-Scott 2011).
Lambek and Scott mention in their 1986 monograph (pp.viii, 233, 250) two further remarkable properties of the free topos $\mathcal{T}$:
All maps $R\to R$ in the free topos represent continuous functions. Note that this is not the same as to say that Brouwer’s theorem (“all functions $R\to R$ are continuous”) is true in the free topos, which is not the case.
The natural numbers object $N$ is projective.
The first result is attributed to André Joyal, presumably unpublished, and for the second claim they refer to an unpublished manuscript by Michael Makkai and a manuscript by Friedman and Scedrov, presumably (1983).
The free topos was first constructed by H. Volger. A second construction appears in
Freyd’s proof of the above properties appears first in
On the relation between the proof and the topos-theoretic techniques in the proof see
A. Scedrov, Phil Scott, A note on the Friedman Slash and Freyd Covers , pp. 443-452 in The LEJ Brouwer Centenary Symposium , North Holland Amsterdam 1982.
Jim Lambek, Phil Scott, New proofs of some intuitionistic principles , Zeit. für Math. Logik 29 (1983) pp. 493-504.
For textbook accounts of the free topos see
Jim Lambek, Phil Scott, Introduction to Higher-Order Categorical Logic , Cambridge UP 1986. (pdf)
P. Freyd, A. Scedrov, Categories, Allegories , North-Holland Amsterdam 1990. (1.(10)31, p.192)
Elephant F3, to appear.
For dependent choice in intuitionistic type theory:
For J. Lambek’s views on the role of the free topos in foundations of mathematics see:
J. Couture, Jim Lambek, Philosophical Reflections on the Foundations of Mathematics , Erkenntnis 34 (1991) pp.187-209.
Jim Lambek, Are the traditional philosophies of mathematics really incompatible? , Math. Intelligencer 16 (1994) pp.56–62.
Jim Lambek, What is the world of mathematics? , APAL 126 (2004) pp.149-158. (draft)
Jim Lambek, Phil Scott, Reflections on Categorical Foundations of Mathematics , pp.171-185 in Sommaruga (ed.), Foundational Theories of Classical and Constructive Mathematics, Springer New York 2011. (draft)
This is not to be confounded with the gadget of the same name in SGA4 (1972, p.313) i.e. the topos $sh(\emptyset)$ of sheaves on the empty topological space aka the one point category, also called the empty topos there. In this context the appropriate maps are geometric morphisms. ↩